Article: Offer options while giving gifts at the workplace

Life @ Work

Offer options while giving gifts at the workplace

In order to avoid upsetting a colleague with the wrong gift, give him the option to choose
Offer options while giving gifts at the workplace

Gifts lead to sudden positive spikes in an employee's engagement and motivation levels for a limited period


In order to avoid upsetting a colleague with the wrong gift, give him the option to choose

Many companies consider giving gifts an essential part of the organisation’s cultural fabric. Employee forms in several organisations seek details like date of birth, anniversary and other personal information that have no direct relevance to the role, job profile or employment offer. Apart from record keeping, organisations typically use this information to broadcast and recognise small and large personal landmarks of employees through such initiatives.

Gifts at the workplace have become an integral part of engagement strategies in many companies. While varied in nature and form, behavioural studies reveal that such gifts lead to sudden positive spikes in an employee’s engagement and motivation levels for a limited period. While a numerical correlation between the nature of a gift and the consequent positive spurt in engagement is yet to be established, the practice of giving gifts between organisations and employees and between colleagues continues to be an integral part of organisational culture in most companies.

What constitutes the right gift?

Gifts can go terribly wrong! Even though giving gifts can promote positive motivation, empirical evidence also suggests that wrong ones can cause adverse results. What works as a good gift for one individual may not exactly work for another.

When Pratiksha Mishra, a customer care executive in a global financial firm, received a musk perfume on her birthday from a male colleague, she was visibly upset. She interpreted the gesture as a crude remark on her personal hygiene. However, all her colleague was doing was try to replicate the success of a gifting experience with another male colleague a few months ago.

Mr Joshi, a general manager at an international manufacturing firm, had to trash the “Diwali Gift” that his organisation sent him—a box of sweet biscuits – as he was a diabetic.

The headache of collaboration

Added to that, it is often noticed that community gifting at the workplace becomes a Herculean task of management and collaboration. Soliciting individual contributions within a specified timeline and collaboration involved in arriving upon a mutually agreeable gift idea actually becomes a logistical nightmare for the individual who is tasked with it. The task gains an added layer of complexity when there is a cross-geography team involved.

Offer choice, do not impose

Behavioural scientists comment that the spectrum of “safe gifts” that can be based purely on gender, demographics or age is rather small. While most rely on the above approximations, it is very hard to predict how a person attributes value against a particular gift that s/he receives.

There has been an increasing trend of providing gift cards as a safe alternative. Gift cards offer an employee the choice to utilise the value according to his/her own discretion. Organisations and employees have many gifting options to choose from in this space. Some of the most popular ones are:

Visa incentive card: This is a co-branded Visa card that a company loads with money and uses as part of the total rewards or employee incentive strategy.

Banking gift cards: This is a gift card that banks offer enterprise employees and comes pre-loaded with a specific amount of money. An organisation typically uses these gift cards during festivals and special occasions. These cards usually carry the option for the user to load more money for later use.

Bitgifting: This is a virtual card offered by incentive service company Bitgifting, where colleagues can seamlessly contribute online for an event. This eliminates the need for collaboration and scheduling and the contributions can be directly claimed in equivalent money terms by the receiver. The virtual platform also allows contributors to leave a message to the recipient, thereby making it memorable.

Yiftee: Although only available in the US at this point, this is a mobile application that allows users to send credits to a colleague that s/he can claim from the nearest Yiftee supported merchant. This application is supported with GPS and hence, geography-agnostic.

The process of giving a gift to a colleague is always a tricky affair, as it entails a great amount of personal, demographic and psychological estimations. It appears that an individual or an organisation can greatly reduce the risks associated with workplace gifting by offering the receiver the option of choice.

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Topics: Life @ Work

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